All of you, beyond the age of fifty-five, can relate to the intense preparations we had to go through to prepare for Easter Sunday. It was a given that you read your Sunday school lesson prior to that Sunday morning. You definitely would not have time to even scan the pages while riding in the car to church for fear that you would wrinkle your dress. “Sit up straight, or you will look like we didn’t care what you looked like!” my Mother would say. “Let that bow tie alone! Oh, my goodness, what have you done to your necktie?” she would exclaim (that’s putting it mildly). “Paul, I thought you tied that tie!” All the way to church we would hear the concern that her little chickens might not be presentable by the time we embarked from the car and walked a good 75 feet into the church – we parked on the Cumberland Presbyterian side of the church.
When my brothers and I arrived at church, we felt we had won a battle because we had survived the previous week of shopping for our new spring outfits. I knew we couldn’t continue to wear winter clothes, but I never understood why everything had to be new all at the same time - even your unmentionables?? (“Put on your new underwear, we might have a wreck.” How many times have you heard that?)
All of the begging to wait another day to shop would turn into a march down Broadway to Mr. Burnis -and Mrs. Dorothy Booth’s store to begin our day with the purchase of new shoes –Buster Brown shoes. My feet had been so comfortable in my old Sunday shoes! And Mrs. Dorothy was trying to fit me in a pair of white patent leather that absolutely would not bend! Not only that, for some reason they had to be big enough to allow growth for the summer months ahead. I thought I looked like I had on clown shoes when I stood up to walk around (“don’t get off of the rug”). Mother –1 win; Paula -0. Being the oldest meant that I always went first to try on shoes and hopefully set an example for my brothers about how you needed to act in the store. NOT SO! Their turn came and I sat in the chair behind Mother’s back, out of reach of her hand that could pop my leg, so I could tease my brothers about their shoes. Children’s shoes for boys were the ugliest things back then. We didn’t realize this because every male child wore the same style, same color.
On to Mrs. Louise Sparks and Mrs. Margaret Scarbrough’s dress shop. I do not believe I will ever forget that pink lacy dress I had to try on – with a stand-out stiff slip underneath no less! “Oh, darling! You look precious!” Mrs. Louise exclaimed. HA! I noticed they were sitting there in their dresses which loosely hung without a scratchy thing making their dresses stand out. Did they have any idea the torture I was going through?? I don’t think that mattered because the look of accomplishment they and Mother had on their faces was enough to make me realize the score was now Mother -2; Paula -0.
The icing on the cake, so to speak, came when I had to try on a hat! Not only did I have to try it on, but Mother bought it. Now, I have always liked hats, and I thought I looked pretty good until my brothers saw me. You could have heard them laughing all the way to Daddy’s store. That purchase was a waste of money because I wore it in the car to church and took it off as soon as I walked in the door of my Sunday school room. Score: Mother -2; Paula – 1. YES!!
We sat in church that beautiful Easter Sunday, singing to the top our lungs, and Mother would look over and be so proud of us. I didn’t realize it at the time, but we had learned one of our first lessons in life. Always look presentable. Confidence begins when you feel good about yourself – scratchy slip and all!